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HEMINGWAY by Michael Reynolds

HEMINGWAY

The American Homecoming

By Michael Reynolds

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-631-18481-3

 Reynolds (English/North Carolina State Univ.) is on installment three of his Hemingway biography (The Young Hemingway, 1986; Hemingway: The Paris Years, 1989), and the leisurely attention he can pay to minutiae in so spread-out and magnified a project both pays off and doesn't. Where the one-volume biographer must weigh every emphasis, Reynolds is free to pretty much follow Hemingway along the bumpy road, almost never standing back to judge the progress. This new volume finds Hemingway published in Paris, shucking friends like Gertrude Stein, shucking first wife Hadley for second wife Pauline, and returning to America to spend time with his in-laws, finish A Farewell to Arms, and endure the suicide of his father. What works here is Reynolds's tendency to use the manuscript drafts of Hemingway's writings as accurate mirrors of emotional turmoil--as well as of ultimate victories over personal life through the redemption of high artistry. What scores less securely is the overly narrative, bathetic interior-states Reynolds assigns to Hemingway: ``His train was only thirty minutes outside of Philadelphia, where he could connect to Chicago overnight. But Bumby? He could take Bumby with him, but he wanted to be there alone, unencumbered, free to cry if the tears came.'' Not really far-fetched, but this empathetic ``fine-writing'' also seems unnecessary--a kind of gewgaw marring an otherwise energetic and careful approach. (Photographs.)